Can you claim that your business’s point of difference includes providing exemplary customer service?
If so, that’s fantastic … but just how far would you go to authenticate that statement? And what really defines ‘good customer service’?
It’s a practice that should really go without saying, and at the very least be an underlying component of your business strategy; nigh impossible to survive in a competitive world that relies on offering service for income if that service is not up to scratch.
A couple who have their interpretation of customer service down pat are duo act Chris Feron, property manager par excellence, complemented, motivated, and ably supported by wife Angela.
Chris and Angela have run tenant-landlord service Feron Property Management since 2015. As rental placement and liaison agents, this team are totally on top of their game in an industry chock-full of opposing circumstances and personalities. How to please everyone?
Providing consistently good customer service relative to solving very personal issues - like decent living arrangements, paying rent, finding 'good' tenants for fussy property owners - is clearly not about ‘one size fits all’.
For Chris and Angela, however, it is about keeping things human, putting technology in its place (in the background), and staying true to clients in the best ways possible.
The best ways are surprisingly simple:
Replacing jargon terms like ‘relationship building’ with phrases such as being respectful, genuinely interested and kind to customers. Superseding ‘technical know-how' by demonstrating how streamlined systems allow more time to stay in touch with clients. Deleting tenancy tribunal lingo by chatting naturally about tenant obligations and accommodation standards. Making face-to-face meetings fun by bearing cupcakes, hand-crafted fudge, and chocolate. Using happy slogans like Have a Magical Day, and giving high-fives, Christmas cards and thumbs-up certificates to tidy tenants.
Sound like a nod to Disney? It is! This is how Chris and Angela operate - it’s deliberate, it’s genuine, and it works.
And who wouldn’t want a bit of Disney in their life? Chris has seen a lot of disturbing stuff; he’s witnessed tragedy, been abused, even vomited on by a tenant’s baby – all par for the course, which is why property management is not for the faint-hearted.
Why then stay in such a challenging job? And who gave Chris and Angela the confidence to ignore the naysayers and plunge into going solo with their own enterprise?
John Crocker, https://www.johncrocker.co.nz/:
“Yes, it will work, get the negative mindset out! You can do this, listen to your wife – she’s just got It! She’s on to it!”
A wise man always listens to his wife, so with the support of Angela’s excellent administration skills, a small but loyal client base and successful social media following, Chris and Angela went away and created Feron Property Management.
Their husband-wife yin-yang balancing act has since attracted the attention and respect of similar businesses all over New Zealand.
Their fastidious procedures and natural people skills have led the way, not only to the establishment of a successful business but also to a timely exit plan on how to get out.
“Christchurch, I’ve only just got in! I’ve never understood that – a succession plan – what the hell’s that about?”
Things change though, so it was lucky they never dismissed the thought, and as their systems and procedures have been impeccable from go to whoa, Chris and Angela were able to command a fair price, favourable conditions, and sell Feron on.
Chris recommends engaging in practices like:
- Spending quality time with clients
- Getting to know them
- Finding out what makes them tick
- Becoming part of their extended family
- Focusing on human values
- Utilising minute attention to detail
- Being prepared to deal with the unknown
- Knowing when to walk away
- Going the extra mile to deliver great customer service.
(And if letting a colicky baby vomit down your back in the middle of a round of property inspections isn’t customer service, we don’t know what is.)
Chris says tailoring his approach to each client's individual situation and unique character is key. He's a little unpredictable, always off the cuff, “You can never be someone else’s personality; you’ve just got to be who YOU are.”
[The challenges of recruiting staff with the right personality, experience and attitude are some of the trickiest parts of the job. Apparently, ex-Air NZ cabin crew are amongst the best; everything is in the detail - and flight attendants have that skill landed.]
Final words from Chris:
- Be human and humble in your dealings
- Be professional
- Keep things simple
- Seek advice via networking
- Get yourself in front of successful people
- Never be content with status quo
- Accept your insecurities as a motivator to achieve better things
- Be exemplary in your systems management
- Identify the meaning of customer service and deliver it.
Chris would also recommend you “Have a magical day!”
And before long, your clients will be replying, “You have a magical day, too!”
Contact Chris via Facebook, LinkedIn, or call him on 027 753 6949.
By the way, if you need more help in moving your business from ordinary to extraordinary visit me, Craig Oliver at http://www.projecthq.co.nz/
Or follow fellow business owners on their journeys by checking out our O2E Business Academy on Facebook.
And read the show notes from our other amazingly informative, inspirational and gritty podcasts at https://www.talkingbetterbusiness.com/
So many insights, tips, and ideas to be had! Just look back, listen, and learn.
Go on, smash through the glass ceiling, and move your business from Ordinary to Extraordinary.